If you operate on the eCommerce shop, more than likely you already have a social media plan in place and we all know the importance of an effective social media strategy. If not, then it’s high time you create one! If you plan on boosting your holiday sales this winter, September is the “go” time for your social media strategy. Check out Hootsuite and Volusion’s collaborative webinar, “Jumpstart Holiday Sales with Social Media” on Tuesday, September 1, to learn expert steps for getting started in the right direction.
Great if you have your social media strategy nailed down but give me the honor of throwing a wrench in your plans. Even though a concrete social media strategy is important, there is not much room left for adapting to the onslaught of ever changing trends in the social realm that can build your marketing strategy into a new car or a pile of metal.
Instead of responding to every internet whim, how do you know you are devoting time and resources to the right trends? Have any of your Facebook friends earlier this year declare, “Find me on Ello!” only to sheepishly return to Facebook a few weeks later? How can you make sure you’re not about to commit the marketing equivalent of moving to Ello—dumping time and money into the ‘Next Big Social Disrupter’ only to hit a dead-end?
Social media trends that have proven themselves as nearly-universal fits for our eCommerce stores and below are the winners:
1. Photo Apps & Visual Platforms
A survey revealed that we all are professionally and personally obsessed with beautiful and visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. By their nature, eCommerce stores are visual mediums. Prospective customers aren’t able to test, try on, taste or feel the product, they are having to rely solely on ocular senses for their decisions. Therefore, it is extremely important that eCommerce stores take high-quality, enticing photos of their products, and that is half the battle. Next up, taking the product photos to the places where the visual beings hang out. Below are 2 of the more chosen visual platforms:
Pinterest: Within the past year or so, Pinterest has pulled off the impressive feat of operating much more like a traditional search engine than I would have thought possible. Our most successful clients have taken advantage of this by intuiting how the search feature works and “optimizing” their pins accordingly. This means every pin and board needs to include rich, searchable, and natural keywords. The right descriptions help product pins rank for important search terms and can become a boon for revenue. You can use Pinterest’s “auto complete” feature to guide your choices. For example, when I search for “blue pants,” Pinterest will suggest “blue pants for men,” “blue pants for women,” and “blue pants for children.” A product that fits the bill for one of these more specific searches would do well to use the more targeted words.
Instagram: The trend that has launched many of our clients’ success is Instagram’s ability to serve as a home for “brand ambassadors.” One of my clients, upon checkout, has a message that reads, “Share your find on Instagram with #FoundIt.” They use the hashtag on their own Instagram posts while allowing their
customers to do the same. Even though they don’t use their own hashtag on every post, the client now has over 4,500 tags on Instagram from happy customers.
Polyvore is such an exciting visual platform that it deserves its own recognition. Those who consider Polyvore a cornerstone of their social media strategy are those who sell clothing or home decor. Polyvore is a platform that focuses primarily on fashion, beauty and interior design, and it’s a major hangout for taste makers and lovers of the aesthetic-about 20 million monthly unique users, at last count. It is alleged that Yahoo was so confident in Polyvore’s outlook, they bought the platform for $60 million.
Since it is still considered such a niche platform, many people still have not heard of it. Polyvore is a comparatively unsaturated space despite the impressive numbers and apparent success. Ultimately, this entitles brands that use it to have a good shot at competing with larger entities.
Users of Polyvore build their own “Sets,” designing outfits, seasonal wardrobes, or living rooms by cherry-picking their favorite items from stores across the web. Clients build their own sets, piggybacking on the buzz surrounding popular styles and items and adding their own products to the mix. It’s a great way to gain visibility via searches that are not tied directly to your products, allowing you to cast a wider net for your audience.
About Polyvore: it appeals to a fashion-obsessed, trend-savvy user base, which means the most successful stores are the ones that sell trendy products – the average order value for eCommerce traffic from Polyvore is significantly higher than that of any other platform. this does not mean that having expensive taste is the same as having fashionable taste. Never push aside your apparel or home decor store because your products are a little less costly. Concern yourself with designing eye catching sets and people will see how your products integrate into their lifestyle and you will most certainly reap the benefits.
3. Video Optimization
An essential and overlooked cornerstone of a comprehensive marketing strategy is none other than YouTube. Generating millions of dollars in revenue each year for eCommerce sites who know how to use it, YouTube is a billion-user strong video search engine. YouTube happens to be owned by Google and has a history of weighing social signals from its own platforms strongly in its SEO algorithms. YouTube, like Polyvore, is also a relatively dry field, particularly for the sort of niche videos eCommerce merchants specialize in. After designing a set of YouTube SEO best practices and tested them, the results were amazing:
- One client, after hosting videos for three years on YouTube, experienced a 150 percent increase in the view counts of his videos in the first two weeks alone
- All clients tested experienced a statistically significant increase in views, most within the range of 75 to 200 percent, within two months
Obviously there is a massive and favorable chance that optimizing videos for search-ability both on YouTube and other video platforms like Vimeo and Facebook. Simple equipment can be used such as GoPro and iPhones can be used to produce great videos for “how-to’s”, feature a product or share trends even if you don;t think you have what it takes. In today’s market, high production value is not sought out and this is true when it comes tot eCommerce space, where product knowledge and authentic voice trump showiness.
Like Thomas the Train, Facebook too is the social media engine that just won’t quit. In the beginning, there weren’t that many people on Facebook nor were there any photos other than a tiny profile picture. Today, Facebook has become exponential and continuously rolls out new upgrades and features that make both users and brands happy. Despite the ongoing concern that Facebook will be going away, they are destined to stay awhile. Most of their success lies with their ability to roll with the punches of the temperamental social media landscape, changing their interface in ways that are brand friendly and doing so without estranging its independent user base. Here are two recent ways in which it has done so for our clients:
- Calls to Action: Every brand page now has the opportunity to create an extremely visible, interactive call to action that will take users directly to a sign-up, shopping or scheduling page. This simple but massively effective button will take users directly to the step in your conversion funnel where they’re most likely to commit – thus increasing conversion across the board. If you haven’t added your own call to action, log into your brand’s Facebook page and do it now. Or finish this post first, because it’s almost done.
- The Mobile Product Ad Carousel: This format allows you to add multiple images and calls to action to a single Facebook ad, allowing you to showcase more of your best products and increasing the odds of your prospective customer finding exactly what they’re looking for. Our eCommerce clients have seen significant revenue increases via the ad carousel.
The next time you plan on remodeling your social media strategy, add these trends to your design plan for serious permanancy and proven results.